Monday, March 29, 2010

Burrowing Owls

Much of last year I was able to observe a pair of Burrowing Owls that had taken up a home in a pasture along Domestic Street in the San Carlos Park area of south Lee County. Origionally we had two pairs who were nesting in burrows right in the burm of the road. They dissapeared, probably due to the attention they were receiving being so close to the road. But I did shortly rediscover the pair in the pasture, who raised a pair of owlets.  Then they disappeared again over the winter, until a couple of weeks ago. I refound them, or another pair, at the old pasture burrow location. But apparently the old digs were not good enough now and so they seemed to have moved on again. No doubt they are somewere closeby and would  enjoy being able to see them again this summer.

Black-Necked Stilts

Black-Necked Stilt

After leaving work Sunday morning I was in search of any of the early migratants being reported. Sanibel Lighthouse had reports of kingbirds, hooded warblers, worm-eating warblers, waterthrushs, buntings, grosbeaks, etc. But I chose the much closer Six-Mile Cypress Slough as I was a bit tired after completeing a twelve-hour shift. I first stopped at the I-75 rest stop at Daniels Road to look for any wilson's snipes. I found that the recent rains had flooded much of the proerty which had attracted about ten Black-Necked Stilts plus another four Greater Yellowlegs and several Glossy Ibis and a lone White Ibis. No snipes, but the stilts were a pleasent suprise.

At Six-Mile Cypress the parking area was a bit quite. Did get looks at a Red-Bellied Woodpecker, a Hairy Woodpecker, a couple of Tufted Titmice (not sure on the plural) and a noisy Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. At the lake, had a Limpkin sitting atop a tree across the water and was also was lucky to find a trio of Wood Ducks at one of the ponds. They immediately flew off, as usual. They don't stick around when the people start to show up. Later found a mixed flock of feeding warblers which included Black-and-White, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers and a couple of Downy Woodpeckers. The many Cardinals were in full voice and several Gray Catbirds were as well. Heard several Common Yellowthroats, a Great Crested Flycatcher and a couple of Carolina Wrens, but could not be seen.

So I missed out on the migrants, but the stilts, limpkin and wood ducks were a plus for the day.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Another Dade County Trip
Monday, March 15th

Wanted to take another stab at the Smooth-Billed Ani in the Everglades and the LaSagre Flycatcher at Key Biscayne. Started with a venture to Kendell for exotics, then over to Bill Baggs State Park for the flycatcher. Next to Mathesion Hammock Park for warblers and exotics. Followed with a stop in Florida City for Scissor-tailed Flycatchers, then to Lucky Hammock and the Everglades. A long day.

Kendell, Florida
My goal here was to search the neighborhood north of the Kendell Baptist Hospital for Red-Whiskered Bulbuls. Was advised to try about 8:30am as the birds should be seen sunning themselves on wires and roof tops. Patrolled the neighborhood for about forty five minutes. Found shrikes, grackles, monk parakeets and flyovers of mitre parakeets, but no bulbuls. Checked the hospital campus were a great many red-Masked and Mitre Parakeets were active.  The pond had a great many Muscovy Ducks, Ring-Billed Gulls and White Ibis. Of note was a Broad-Winged Hawk seen earlier along Krone Ave near Pembroke Pines.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park - Key Biscayne

Cape Florida Light House originally built in 1825

Arrived on site for the LaSagre Flycatcher about 10:30am, but failed to observe very much bird life at all.
The flycatcher was a no-show for the hour I spent here. The only other noteworthy bird on-hand was Northern Parula. See this link for a more successful viewing the day before - Caribbean Visitors, by an expert birder.

Matheson Hammock County Park - Coral Gables
Next headed over to Matheson Hammock to seek parrots, warblers and maybe some hill mynas. Rare bird alerts noted that a brown-crested flycatcher was active here, near to the picnic area. Some of the parrots see here include white-winged parakeets, and chestnut-fronted macaws. As for my visit, I found a couple of Black and White Warblers and heard a White-Eyed Vireo.  As for parrots and mynas, I only heard a couple of times were parrots were flying overhead, but could not be seen.  So far my luck in finding any of my target species for the day was all bad luck.

Homestead - Everglades
Tried the scissor-tailed flycatcher roost in mid-afternoon in Florida City, but only found Loggerhead Shrikes and Mockingbirds. In Homestead I did find a single Common Myna. Headed over to Lucky Hammock, which is on Aerojet Road just east of the entrance to Everglades National Park. Was expecting to find a few raptors, hoping for Swainson's and short-tailed Hawks. It was very quite.  Did find Cardinals and Gray Catbirds. A Great Crested Flycatcher was very active at the hammock.  Did get to see a Red-Shouldered hawk, Northern Harrier and a white-morphed Short Tailed Hawk. Tried help some folks from Wisconsin relocate the short-tailed hawk, but it did not return before I left.
Headed into the park with goal of locating the Smooth-Billed Ani seen regularly on the Anhinga Trail at Royal Hammock. Had been informed that it wa regularly showing up later in the day, about 6pm. Had a little time so went to Mrazek Pond to see if and Pintails were still around. They were not.  Only a few Blue-Winged Teal were present. Also tried for the Barred Owls at Mahogany Hammock.  But they to were a no show. Ran into a couple who said they had seen the baby owls the past to days and were disappointed not to be able to get any photos today.  So my bad luck has continued. Does not look good for the Ani.
Spent two hours at the Ani site at Royal Hammock till it was getting dark. Meet a fella from Kansas who was also disappointed on missing the bird.  He spent most of the day here and had been told that the bird was present earlier.
Headed for home with my total hits on my target birds at zero.  Gave Lucky Hammock one last try as Lesser Nighthawks, Short-faced Owls and a Barn Owl have been present at dusk. I may have heard a distant whip-per-will, but was not sure. Nothing else was seen.
A long long day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Harlequin Duck

To twich or not to twich. The commitment was a seven hour round trip drive from Ft Myers to Sebastion Inlet near Vero Beach to seek out a female harlequin duck that had been seen there for several weeks now. The chances of ever seeing another harlequin in Florida is very slim.  Seems that the east coast population is very small and second they usually winter in Greenland or Iceland, and rarely as far south as Maryland.  Odds seemed good for locating the bird so I headed very early this morning.

Sebastion Inlet State Park
Arrived at the park's south shore at about 8:35am and was able to park my car within a few yards from the resting harlequin duck.  She was setting on a algae cover rock at the base of the stony seawall. Took a few photos and left her alone.

Next was to find the reported purple sandpiper. So I headed over to the north shore and spent a hour searching along the rocks. But only found Ruddy Turnstones here. Hiked out to the end of the fishing pier and had a few looks at Northern Gannets. The shore and in the inlet tideal pool had several kinds of gulls, terns and shore birds. Both Brown and American White Pelicans were present.
I See You

Picnic Time

Saw lots of Black Skimmers, Forster's Terns and Royal Terns plus a single Caspian Tern. A single Herring Gull ws seen at the beach along with many Ring-billed Gulls and Laughing Gulls. Had hoped to spot the Glaucous Gull reported earlier. Saw several Wilson's Plovers which seems to be unusual here, as noted in a few reports on Other shore birds were around like a Black-bellied Plover anda Dunlin.
An interesting event on the beach was a surfing contest.

Sebastion fishing pier

A view from the tidal pool

Wilson's Plover

Ruddy Turnstone

A Crested Caracara found near Bluefield Ranch in St Lucie County on the way home.
Saw several pairs of Sandhill Cranes today and a Cooper's Hawk near Pelican Island NWR. Only saw a few robins which may mean they are heading north already, but did not see any Swallow-tailed Kites today.

My list for the day (53)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Wilson's Snipe

After work this morning I decided to head over to Six-Mile Cypress Slough to look for warblers. Passed a Bald Eagle resting atop an FP&L high-power stanchion.
I sometimes check in at the rest stop adjacent to I-75 on Daniels Road, as some of the property back there is very marshy.  Can be good for waders and shore birds at times. Figured that I might locate a Wilson's Snipe today. It was not too wet, and I did find a pair of snipe along with three Killdeers. As I got out of the car to get a better look, I observed a flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings whirling around nearby trees. Seems that they could not decide what to do. As I am watching the waxwings a large brown bird comes flying by, being mobbed by several grackles. It was a Great Horned Owl. Cool!! So you never know what you'll find when birding. Without moving a step, had the snipes, waxwings and the owl.
Did stop over at Six-Mile Cypress.  The parking lot was not very birdy, but the the streach up by the pavillion yielded some activity with lots of Blue Gray Gnatcatchers and Yellow-Rumped Warblers.  Found a few Palm Warblers and a couple of Black & White Warblers and a Northern Parula  too. A Yellow-Bellied Sap Sucker came in as did a Hairy Woodpecker.  The Hairy Woodpecker is not very common in this area of Florida, but a small colony does still hold its own at Six-Mile Cypress. Did not stay very long and as I was heading out, spotted a soaring Short-Tailed Hawk.
The hawk was my best sighting of the day, or maybe it was the owl. Think it is a tie. This is also the third day without spotting any robins. Guess they maybe moving northward.  The palm and yellow-rumped warblers should be disappearing in a few weeks as well. The American kestrels, gray catbirds, belted kingfishers and  house wrens will be gone soon too.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Swallow-Tailed Kites - A Trip with Caloosa Bird Club

Monday March 1st

Caloosa Bird Club Trip - Green Cay Wetlands, Wakodahatchee Wetlands, & STA-1W

On Monday, March first I joined with members of the Caloosa Bird Club on a trip across Florida to Palm Beach County to visit Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach, Wakodahatchee Wetlands in Delray Beach and Stormwater Treatment Area 1W. The trip was fully booked at fifty-two people, as that filled the bus.  It was certianly nice not to have to do the driving this time.
We left Ft Myers about 6:30am and arrived at Green Cay about 9:30am. Had a pit stop in Clewiston. Picked up a few birds there - Greater and a Lesser Yellowlegs and a few Brown-headed Cowbirds. One objective here was to see if anyone could find a common myna.  Not today. The best sighting on the trip over was a FOS sighting of a pair of Swallow-tailed Kites. The reappearance of the kites are much atticipated as the start of the spring migration, plus they are the favorite bird for a lot of people.  Including my daughters. Other interestings sightings along the way included a flock cedar waxwings, a couple Crested Caracara and a Northern Harrier. One species that was missed were sandhill cranes.
 My Clewiston list - White Ibis, Turkey Vulture, Swallow-tailed Kite, Northern Harrier, Crested Caracara, American Kestrel, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Laughing Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Rock Pigeon, Pileated Woodpecker, Fish Crow, American Robin, Boat-tailed Grackle

Green Cay Wetlands - Boynton Beach
One reason I was keen on this trip was the rare bird alerts for a black-throated gray warbler that been seen regularly in the Green Cay parking lot. So I made a quick survey of the lot, without any luck, as usual, before joining the others inside.
Green Cay Wetlands is a facility owned by Palm Beach Utilities for the treatment and disposal of treated wastewater. It is open to the public and is very popular.  Lots of walkers as well nature lovers. Lots of bird life on hand.  All of the waders were here, plus hundreds of Coots and Moorhens. A Limpkin was found or rather heard. Had four differnt swallows on hand. Lots of Purple Martins, Tree Swallows, Northern Rough-Winged Swallows and a sole Barn Swallow.
After a first circle of the boardwalk, I returned to the parking lot to seek-out the black-throated gray warbler. Gave it a good search. The only warblers were a few Yellow-Rumped Warblers, but no lifer today. However, I was in luck with a light-morphed Short-Tailed Hawk circling the lot. Seems that I was the only observer. Returned to boardwalk till it ws time to go.

Mottled Ducks

Anhinga on guard

Boardwalk at Green Cay

My Green Cay List - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Green Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawk, Short-tailed Hawk, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Limpkin, Royal Tern, Blue Jay, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Barn Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Red-winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle

Wakodahatchee Wetlands - Delray Beach

After lunch, we rode  over to the nearby Wakodahatchee Wetlands, also a part of the Palm Beach Utilities system. We were greeted right at the start with a Purple Gallinule. The wetlands had a great many nesting Anhingas, Cormorants and Great Blue Herons. Lots of big gators, as well as, lots of snowbirds. Mottled Ducks, Blue-wing Teal, Coots and Moorhens were very numerous. Also found a could of Hooded Mergansers and a couple of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks too. A Forster's Tern was very busy in patroling the wetlands for its lunch.

Momma Anhinga with chick

Great Blue Heron on nest

Hooded Mergansers and Mottled Ducks

The wetlands in profusion

American Coot

My Wakodahatchee Wetlands list - Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Pied-billed Grebe, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Cattle Egret, Green Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Red-shouldered Hawk, Purple Gallinule, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Forster's Tern, Mourning Dove, Eastern Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Jay, Purple Martin, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler, Common Grackle, Boat-tailed Grackle

Stormwater Treatment Area 1W
STA-1W was last stop of the day before a nice buffet dinner at the Clewiston Inn in Clewiston. Time was short so I stay here was also short. The best sightings here was probably the Black Skimmers and a Purple Swamphen. Lots of Coots and Moorhens again. Aside from Blue-winged Teal and Mottled Duck, most of the other ducks were hard to identify due to bad lighting. Ruddy Duck and Lesser Scaup were noted. A few American White Pelicans were on-hand, but a great many could be seen in flight in the distance. Palm Warblers were also entertaining with their flitting about.
My STA-1W list - Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican, Brown Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, American Kestrel, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Killdeer, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Palm Warbler

Arrived back in Ft Myers around 9pm very tired but satisfied with the trip. My day count was 67.  Not a bad start for a new monthly count.


My youngest brought home this lizard the other day.  She got it for free from a yard sale and we don't know anything about it yet.